This news came in response to last month's Take-Two court filing against Duke Nukem Forever developer Apogee Software, which attempted to recoup loans the publisher had distributed to Apogee -- loans which would have ostensibly been repaid by DNF royalties. Apogee's attorneys responded Friday with a shocking revelation -- in exchange for their support, Apogee gave Take-Two the rights to simultaneously develop another Duke Nukem game. Take-Two tasked 2K Games with said development under the working title Duke Begins.
Apogee's defense states that 2K "halted or otherwise canceled all development work by the third-party game developer on the Duke Begins game in April 2009," an action Apogee sees as Take-Two's attempt at, "pressuring Apogee to sell the Duke Nukem franchise rights to Take-Two for less than their true value." With the cat officially out of the bag, we expect to hear more about the Duke's origin story (like, if it's still being developed) in the near future.
[Update: Turns out that the mysterious third-party developer working on Duke Begins for Take-Two was none other than Gearbox Software.]